Sunday, May 12, 2013

Seeing woman's cane raps a little sense into my head

My home repairs were many and costly - the brand-new faucet was cracked, the roof needed replacement, and a back-yard fence would apparently cost more than a trip to Europe.

I was expanding on my litany of woes to a friend while drinking overpriced coffee at a local mall.

"It's so overwhelming," I told her. "It's like everything is breaking at once. We work and work, and we never seem to get ahead!" I was disgruntled - feeling cranky, stressed and poor.

My friend sympathized, but then I noticed her eyes looking over my shoulder. They brightened with delight, and she starting waving someone over.

She introduced her friend to me. The woman was petite and very pretty, in a casually fashionable outfit, cute, spiky hair and fun chandelier earrings so long they brushed her shoulders. She was so put together, in fact, you barely noticed the cane she leaned upon heavily as she walked.

"We were just talking home repairs!" my friend said, introducing me to the new arrival. It seemed her friend and husband had just purchased a foreclosed home and were spending much of their time at home improvement stores trying to put together what the last, irate homeowners had torn apart.

Her friend stood with us for a few minutes, showing us photos on her iPhone and laughing over recent repair mishaps. Then the phone buzzed and she was called back to work. Saying her goodbyes, she limped away, taking each step carefully.

My friend watched her leave somewhat wistfully. "Her MS is back," she told me quietly. "It was in remission, but now it's getting worse. She's taking medication ... but she's having more trouble standing."

She turned her attention back to me and smiled. "Now, what were you saying?"

But I was tongue-tied. In fact, I felt like a shallow jerk. My complaints, I suddenly realized, were ridiculous. I remembered a phrase from a book I'd read by Philip Gulley, titled "Front Porch Tales:"

"One thing I've never understood is why I'm so blessed - good parents, good spouse, good kids, good job - and others aren't. I used to think it was because I was nice to God, until I met some battered saints. Now I just think there's a randomness in this world beyond my understanding. The apostle Paul said that on this side of things, we see in a mirror dimly.

If you woke up this morning and your kids were healthy and your parents loved you, then you don't have any problems. You might think you do, but you don't. And if at night, when you steal into your child's room and watch her little body rise and fall with the breathing, and your heart aches with love, consider your life sublime."

Let the faucet run and the roof crumble. That's what I need to remember.